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A History of Hartford
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Famous Folk and Heroes 
from Hartford MI and Keeler MI

    Contrary to popular belief, it isn’t necessary to be born or educated in the big city to make important contributions to society or to become famous.  Our rural community is and was hometown to many Hartfordites who went on to fame with careers as artists, writers, musicians, athletes, held important governmental positions, or have attained impressive achievements and credentials in other areas throughout their lives.  
       Maybe a memory will be brought to your mind of a classmate who achieved goals everyone expected, or someone who accomplished heights that no one ever dreamed they could.  
       Throughout the years, there were many members of our community that, for one reason or another, did not graduate or did not attend Hartford schools, yet, they made significant historical contributions to the world or to our community.   We have ordinary people who are heroes because their unselfish acts or deeds became more important than their own lives.  If you know of other Hartfordites whose name should be added to our honor list, please email the webmaster.  It’s time to show our community and future generations who they are and what they’ve done.



Occupation or Achievement Time Frame Class of

Diann Banic Tosh

Hartford High School Graduate is director of So. Haven schools lunch named president of the School Nutrition Association of Michigan. 2011 1969

Terry L. Bisbee, Sp-6

US Army – Flight Engineer.  Read about Terry on the military page and view the photos of his helicopter and special picture that appeared in Time Life Magazine in 1964. Read letter Terry wrote from Vietnam to his mother about the Purple Heart Award and conditions of the battle front at that time. 1954-1974 Hartford
1955 or 1956

Everard "Eddie" Lorne Carpenter

Professional NHL hockey player in Canada. 1920-1921  

Don F. Cochrane

Delegate to Republican National Convention from Michigan in 1928.
• Editor of The Day Spring.
Inducted into the Michigan Newspaper Hall of Fame: 1952-1968 as publisher of the Hartford Day Spring. (from the Michigan State School of Journalism website at


Martin Conrad

Professional football player in Kentucky and Ohio. 1922-1925 (?) Hartford 1912

Roy (Bud) Davis

1985 to present – writes a weekly feature column, The Paw Paw River Journal, for The Tri-City Record, Watervliet MI. 

Authored and published three books,
Paw Paw River Times, People and Paw Paw River Days & Nights, and Flying the Hump. One of Hartford’s great historians and responsible for capturing much of our history in a collective account through his books

Dr. Willis F. Dunbar
b 1902 in Hartford MI
d 8-1970 in Kalamazoo MI

Newscaster with Channel 3 TV, authored book How It Was In Hartford.  Head of the History Department at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo MI.  He was on staff at Western from 1951 until retirement in 1970.   Willis F. Dunbar Hall was completed in 1971. 1950s Hartford

Eagle Scouts
Dale Johnson
Nick Madison
Ryan Kent
Alan Herriman

It is rare that one in a community attains the highest scouting level of Eagle Scout.  Our community was very honored to have witnessed 4 young Hartford High School seniors receive this honor in an Eagle Court of Honor Ceremony.  2008 All 2008 Hartford graduates

Gary Fernham

UPS Driver for 25 years, 700,000 without an accident – quite an accomplishment! 1985-2010 HHS 1976

George Ernest Foulkes
b 12/25/1878
d 12/13/1960

    1900 to 1919 – Special Agent of the United States Treasury Dept. in charge of field service at New York City, El Paso, Texas, St. Paul MN, and Minneapolis MN
    1920 – Moved to Hartford to engage in Agriculture
    1924, 1926, 1928 – Delegate to Democratic State Conventions
    1933 to 1935 – Elected as a democrat to the 73rd Congress.
    1934 – Nominated for Governor by the Farmer Labor Party – declined.
    1934 – Unsuccessful candidate for reelection to the 74th Congress.
    12/13/1960 – Died in Hartford MI, buried in Hartford Cemetery. 
1900 to1934 Chicago Public Schools and Lake IL Forest University Law Department

Jon Friday

Hartford native is big top ambassador – ringmaster and trapeze artist. 1985 HHS Class of 1953

David Hampton

Member of Michigan Republican State Central Committee. 1979 HHS Class of 1971

Wallace Heuser

World-renowned horticulturist.  Received Michigan State University Outstanding Alumni Award.  2007-2012
HHS Class of 1946

Harry R. Hewitt

Served as Attorney General of Hawaii for 7 1/2 years.  Reappointed as Attorney General and confirmed by the senate, Hewitt resigned to start a law practice in Honolulu.  Harry, son of Nina Hinckley – owner of the Hartford House, also graduated from the University of Michigan. (From the Hartford Day Spring, March 28, 1934.) 1926 to1934 HHS Class of 1910
Ed "Sonny" Kesterke, Cleo Ansteth, Bill Dyer, Elsa Lightner, Larry Blyly, Dorothy Dyer, and Jackie Calvin Hartford High School students formed a band in 1944 with an incredible journey where they would meet famous, historic people beyond anyone’s imagination. 1944 to 2007 1944-1947

Mike Latus

As an Outdoor Explorer Guide, Mike provides weekly Exploring Nature Programs at Michigan’s busiest state park, Warren Dunes State Park. 1994 to
2012 and beyond
HHS Class of 1973
John Madill Well-known photographer with the Herald-Palladium. 1979-2012  

Jake L. Meachum

Jake was an ag teacher, principal, and superintendent of schools in Millington, Michigan (1930-1947).  Millington Jr. High School was renamed as Jake L. Meachum Jr. High. He received the State of Michigan 1999 Crystal Apple Award 38 years after his death. 1919 to
HHS Class of 1919

Trever Meachum

Hartford farmer appointed to Michigan Commission of Agriculture and Rural Development. 2012 HHS Class of 1989

Pastor Timothy Nyhuis,
Hartford Federated Church

Saved a neighbor’s life during a house fire in 1985. Pastor Tim passed away in November, 2011 1985 River Valley HS

Barbara Latus Oosterbaan

Torch Runner for the 2002 Winter Olympics that were held in Utah.  Click here to read the story and see a photo of Barb in her official Torch Runner uniform. Jan 13, 2002 HHS Class of 1971

Steve Olds

Wrote several books on Tax Accounting, appeared on TV specials.   1948 to 2000 Hartford

Chief Simon Pokagon

During his lifetime, he became known as the best educated full-blooded Indian in North America. He was fluent in English, Latin, and Greek. Simon was the third-born son of Chief Leopold Pokagon who, in 1833, signed the treaty at Tippecanoe River, Indiana and gave the site of Chicago into the possession of the whites for $.03 per acre. 
    Simon Pokagon became tribal chief of the Potawatomis of southwestern Michigan. He was well known as an eloquent writer, poet, orator, and philosopher who exhibited great visionary and moral leadership for his people and the world. 
1830 to
Notre Dame, Oberlin College, Twinsburg Institute

Jim Rhinehart

Patent through Sony Corp. (Alabama) for a new computer system and chip.   Received patent on April 16, 2002. 
US Patent No. 6,374,328. 

No. US 6,402,210 B1 is for a hand held device for removing data cartridges from data drives on computers.  It’s called an Ergonomic Data Cartridge Grip.

April, 2002

Attend school in Hartford through the 3rd grade.  Started with the HHS Class of 1964.

Robert Scranton

POW during WW11.  Teacher-coach,1946-1952, at Hartford High School.  1952-1983 Principal at Brighton Middle School, Brighton MI. School was renamed Scranton Middle School prior to his 1983 retirement.  Robert passed away 4-26-2009. 1946-1952  

Flo Shepard

Flyin’ Flo lands at airport.
Flo Shepard has been up in the air a lot in her life, but now she’s enjoying the ground game
2000-2013 Chicago transplant to Hartford MI

Adelbert Stagg, MD

A 59-year legacy of medical care in the Hartford area. Stagg, 87, said he stopped counting how many babies he delivered a long time ago but estimates it may have been as many as 4,000. He said he used to deliver as many as 180 babies a year.  To put that number into perspective, the population of the city of Hartford is about 2,500 (in the year 2007). 1948 to 2007 in Hartford Attended high school at Fletcher Academy, Fletcher NC. Class of 1939

Stillman F. Breed, Samuel Robertson, Gilbert Conklin, Ansel Reynolds, Husen Taylor, and many citizens from the community.

Saved a young man from certain death in 1848. 
Eli Ruggles was trapped in an open well in the township.

Maxine Sinclair

Red Arrow Elementary Teacher. 
1984 – Michigan Mother of the Year 
1996 – Hartford Citizen of the Year 
1926 to
Middleville Public Schools Class of 1944

Bernard A. Stowe

Bernard was the son of Freeman Stowe, a Civil War veteran and pioneer resident and builder of Hartford.  Bernard Street was named for him.  While working as a contract engineer at an electrical firm in Cleveland, Bernard invented the modern oscillating fan.  During WW11, he was engaged as a war production technician.  Bernard’s great grandfather, Francis DeLong, is the only known Revolutionary War soldier to have lived in Hartford.  1870 to 1949 HHS Class of 1888

Warner P. Sutton

Born in Bangor Twp and only son of Luther Sutton, editor of the Hartford Day Spring 1877-1882. Luther was in the Civil War. Warner was also Superintendent of Saugatuck School prior to becoming Consul General in Matamoras.
     1878 – appointed Consul to Northern Mexico for 5 years;
     1884 – served as Consul General at Matamoras and Nuevo Laredo;
     1889 – served as Chief Clerk of International Pan-American Congress.
     An original letter written by Consul Warner P. Sutton, in 1879, foretells details of his 3000-mile wagon and horseback trip across the Rio Grande frontier and Northern Mexico. Very interesting.
1878 to

William (Billy) Vann

Professional Musician – played on WKZO-radio and WKZO-TV with Rem Wall and the original Green Valley Boys. The group organized during the 1940s, with Billy Vann joining the band in 1955.

2000 – famous for his mastery of the steel and electric guitar, Billy was inducted into the Michigan Steel Guitar Hall of Fame.

2008 – Billy’s steel guitar was silenced as he passed away 3-1-2008.

1955 to 2008 HHS 1952

Billy Van Camp – Sergeant
US Air Force – Sergeant
Ball-Turret Gunner
Assistant Flight Engineer
Crew Member
B-24 Bomber,
Cold Iron

Hartford Soldier returns home 57 years after his plane went down in 1944 while on a mission over New Guinea. Two articles about what happened to Billy. 1944  

Emily Winkel
Right Hand Man

8th grade student at Hartford Middle School wins State and National Hispanic Heritage Student Art-Essay Competition. 2005 Hartford Middle school

Information for this web site was gathered from personal interviews, newspaper articles, scrapbooks, personal photo albums, and other documented materials - many available to the public at the Hartford Public Library or Van Buren County Historical Museum.  Please report any typographical errors, updated information, or incorrectly stated information to the webmaster for correction.  Reprinting for personal and instructional purposes is permitted, however, unauthorized commercial reprinting of this information or unauthorized linking to photos-pictures on this site is strictly prohibited without written permission from the webmaster. 

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Revised: March 23, 2009